SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A long simmering debate about how San Francisco police deal with bicyclists involved in vehicle crashes has reached City Hall after complaints stemming from a fatal accident South of Market this summer.
Bicycle and pedestrian advocates were set to face-off Thursday against the San Francisco Police Department in a special hearing convened because police initially declined to cite the big rig driver who killed 24-year-old Amelie Le Moullac.
“Unfortunately that very high profile case, we think, is only the tip of the iceberg,” said Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
Police later determined the driver was at fault in the crash after reviewing video of the incident located by the Bicycle Coalition.
Supervisor Scott Wiener placed the bicycle issue on the Public Safety Committee agenda because of the outcry over how Moullac’s death was investigated.
“In general, I think they take these accidents very seriously,” he said, referring to police. Wiener said he believes San Francisco police officers generally act properly when responding to bicycle crashes.
At the hearing, Deputy Police Chief Mike Biel conceded that police botched the case.
“The Police Department sends our condolences, both to the family and friends and we acknowledge that there were some mistakes made in that investigation,” Biel said.
Since the Moullac’s death on Aug. 14, Shahum said the Bicycle Coalition has logged complaints from more than 100 cyclists who say they were treated unfairly by police who often refused to take reports from them at crash scenes.
“Officers are telling people, if you’re not hurt badly enough to get in an ambulance, we don’t need to take a report,” Shahum said.
The Police Department has prepared a report for the committee that outlines its procedures for handling vehicle crashes that involve cyclists and pedestrians.
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